By Shannon Najmabadi
According to a report by the Associated Press, a Tibetan Buddhist monk self-immolated in the western Chinese Kirti Monastery – the latest in a series of protests against Chinese rule in Tibet.
Twenty-eight-year-old Lobsang Thokmey set himself on fire on March 16 – running towards the monastery gate before collapsing and later succumbing to injuries in a local hospital, according to Examiner.com.
According to Examiner.com, a Kirti Monastery source said, “A large number of Chinese security personnel arrived at the hospital soon after Lobsang Thokmey was admitted and later forcibly took away the deceased’s body to the regional headquarters of Barkham.”
Mr. Thokmey’s self-immolation marks the fifth anniversary of the 2008 killings that reportedly left ten dead in the region, according to the Associated Press.
Last month, the New York Times stated that the recent self-immolations are instigated by young Tibetans who are “desperate to focus global attention on political and religious repression inside Tibet” but are “barred by Chinese authorities from holding any political protests there.”
Since February 2009, 108 Tibetans have set fire to themselves in protest of China’s occupation, according to the Associated Press.
“The occupation of Tibet and repression of Tibetans are the primary reason for the self-immolations inside Tibet,” prime minister of the Tibetan government in exile Lobsang Sangay said in an email to the New York Times. He added that the “solution to the tragedy in Tibet lies with Beijing.”
Chinese officials have blamed exiled Tibetans and the Dalai Lama for contributing to the Tibetan immolations but have not offered concrete evidence to back their claim, according to the Associated Press.
In December, China’s top court and public security authorities issued a directive allowing them to criminally charge those who “organize, plot or incite others” to commit suicidal acts, according to People’s Daily, the official newspaper for China’s Communist Party.
The December report added that self-immolations had “never occurred in Tibetan history until 2009” and that many Tibetan scholars believed the act had been “deliberately introduced to Tibet from foreign countries with political motives.”